The Historic City Cemetery is nearly 150-years old and thought to be the oldest in Ridgefield. The City Cemetery has become the resting place for many remarkable residents and veterans, demonstrating Ridgefield’s history and culture. It is the City’s mission to join hands with the community to preserve and protect this historic cemetery while maintaining access by descendants, providing educational services to all visitors and continuing to offer burial plots in a historic resting place.
Cemetery Plot Information
The City of Ridgefield is requesting your assistance with a Cemetery Security and Protection Project.
Please take a minute to review the information about the project, the cemetery today and the history of the cemetery. Then, take a minute to answer the following questions:
Cemetery Protection Project
The City of Ridgefield recently applied for and received grant funding to implement a Cemetery Security and Protection Project to preserve the historical integrity, endurance and overall beauty of the historic Ridgefield cemetery. The City is anticipating that the first step of the project is to install a new 475-foot long fence and a gated entrance along the northern property line (Northridge Drive) of the cemetery. The northern property line borders residential housing, and there is only a narrow area between the homes and the cemetery. While there was previously a fence in place separating the two zones, it was old and dilapidated, and has subsequently been removed.
No fence along Northridge Drive makes it easy for intentional vandals to drive into the cemetery or enter on foot. The rise in cemetery vandalism across the U.S. gives Ridgefield cause for concern that there is no fence protecting the cemetery in this area. It is also easy for residents to inadvertently back their cars onto cemetery property potentially doing damage to both historic and new markers.
Ridgefield Cemetery Today
Ridgefield Cemetery is open and accessible to all members of the public. The cemetery has hosted numerous school groups from the nearby Union Ridge Elementary School. These field trips involved students laying flags on grave markers and learning about the history of Ridgefield. Similarly, the local Boy Scouts of America Cub Scouts troop does make regular visits to Ridgefield Cemetery where they too are educated on the history of Ridgefield and lay flags on veteran grave markers. Each year on Memorial Day a service is held to commemorate the veterans laid to rest in Ridgefield Cemetery. Service attendees often raise the flag, salute veteran grave markers and inspect veteran for adequate maintenance.
Fredrick and Catherine Shobert are credited as the founders of Ridgefield, and the Ridgefield Cemetery. The Shobert’s arrived in 1853 to homestead 320 acres including the southern portion of the current Ridgefield downtown area. The cemetery property was initially part of the Shobert’s land claim before Catherine designated the land for burial, initially calling the property Shobert Cemetery.
The cemetery is considered to be the oldest in the City, and while the exact founding date is unknown Catherine Shobert’s designation of the land implies it was established within three decades of the City’s founding. The first recorded burial was for Ernest Paxton Mackey, deceased in April 1885. The first deed to a plot in the cemetery is recorded in December 1890. The plot was purchased by James P. Mitchell, a boarder of Catherine Shobert.
In its nearly 150-year history, the cemetery has become the final resting place for many notable Ridgefield residents. This includes Mary Adele “Polly” Shobert. Mary was the second resident to be buried in the cemetery in September 1885, and is likely a child of Fredrick and Catherine Shobert. Catherine was also buried in the cemetery upon her death in October 1904.
In addition to members of the founding family, several members of the very first Ridgefield City Council are buried in the Ridgefield Cemetery. The City Council was established in 1909 when Ridgefield voted to become incorporated into Clark County by a vote of 62-12. City Council Members Frank H. Gilbert, Newman C. Hall, James S. Maxon and Andy Murray are buried in the cemetery between 1911 and 1956.
Another notable individual buried in the Ridgefield Cemetery is Daniel Kendrick Abrams. He donated Abrams Park to the City of Ridgefield in the early 1900’s shortly before his death in 1911. Today, Abrams Park encompasses 40-acres and features nature and walking trails, playing fields, picnic-areas, and a playground. It also hosts numerous community events throughout the year. In 1977 the park was dedicated to honor Abrams. He is credited with providing Ridgefield residents with opportunities for sports and recreation, environmental protection, and community beautification.
Civilians are only part of the storied history of the Ridgefield Cemetery. The cemetery is home to 60 veterans that make up just over seven percent of all burials in the cemetery. A majority of these veterans served during the Civil War – Ridgefield was initially named Union Ridge because it was home to a large number of residents who served in the Union Army. Of the Civil War era veterans, the most notable is Sergeant Albert M. Edmonds who served in the 6th Kansas Cavalry. While his marker is not dated, he is believed to be the oldest veteran laid to rest in the cemetery. Sergeant Edmonds began his service as a private before rising to the title of Sergeant. He mustered out of the Union in 1864 before making his way to settle in Ridgefield.
Of all the veterans buried in the cemetery, the most distinguished is World War I veteran Fred Horn. He is the only known veteran laid to rest in the Ridgefield Cemetery that died from wounds inflicted during battle. Horn’s marker is significantly larger than others, and is intended to commemorate his service. His marker is considered to be a small monument and is fairly visible to cemetery visitors.
The cemetery has been expanded and improved over the past century to accommodate for the growing numbers of residents wanting to be buried in Ridgefield. The most recent renovation was the repaving of internal roadways in 2015. The cemetery is regularly mowed, wedded and maintained to help create a positive experience for visitors.